Vertigo

my head is swaying though it’s deadly still
red blood plasma swimming wildly
my brain rotting like miso
around and around
my feet don’t touch the ground
the walls swoop sideways
in time to a Satie piano
the pale ceiling darkens
turning upside down
i must be having a stroke
i must have a brain tumor
hormones going berserk
vagina drying
bad breath stale body odor of fungus
graying hair thinning
even eyelashes thinning
but your fat getting fatter
you gotta be kidding
dizzy biological clock ticks to the grave
reproductive function grinds to a halt
fossils of dinosaurs sleeping inside the earth
no more monthly blood
no more monthly mood swings
just permanent depression and deprivation
instinct of species preservation
menopause, people say,
marks a step into a more spiritual stage in life
the best years
the final
best years
but the top of my head is filled with air
and deep down, the fiery hotness,
where the flashes come,
that spot where the root of the umbilical cord
a tiny amputated limb
awaits
inside
makes me masturbate in my bed

From Yuri To Yuri: A Contemporary Renku Poem

From Yuri To Yuri: Japanese Womanhood Across Borders of Time
A Contemporary Renku Poem (A Work in Progress).
By Yuri Matsueda and Yuri Kageyama
Read at What the Dickens in Tokyo Oct. 5, 2008.

(1)

20年後あるいは30年後かの自分と対峙し
瞳の深淵をそっと覗き見る
睫毛の長さ
目元の影
声の艶
足首の締まり
それらは注意深く観察される

わずかな欲望はざらついた嫉妬へ
嫉妬は称賛
安堵へ
その移ろいをゆっくりと舌先で転がす昼下がり
私たちは松檮を歩いていた

(2)

pale hands folded over silken robes
music tangled like wind among pine trees
she waits, waits, waits for her daimyo lover

i can’t love a man i can’t respect
i fall for men who’re no good for me
i won’t love a man who might destroy me

her breasts grow fuller with each breath
she knows he will return in the darkness
her tongue is dry and sallow

i can’t resist a man who means danger
his cocky sneer, his sword, his dreams,
his probing lips and fingertips

(3)

月に照らされ

家族を忘れ
あなたを忘れ
過去を忘れ
大気を切り抜け
時間を走り
窓はふさがれ
耳はふさがれ
体はしめられ
心翔る

自由である

夜間飛行

(4)

walking
the path of time of generations of memories of ignorance

all the forgotten women
all the forgotten lovers
all the forgotten babies

walking
past Shibuya cobblestones of footprints of dreams of death

fading love hotels
gleaming boutiques
salesmen passing tissue to no one

walking
faceless voices blend with sirens and cicadas

overheard giggles
sheer wisps of thoughts
too lazy to speak the truth or lies

at dusk

(5)

一本先へ
一本奥へ
円山町を背にして
蝉の声に誘われ
さまよう
女二人
不意に途切れた
鳴き声の間に
白い腹をみせた
亡骸をまたいで
羽を散らした体を尻目に
松涛求めて
喘ぎ歩くも
跡なくあてなく
日、翳る

(6)

dot and line, dot and line
like marching ants spilling
from score sheets to table to equator to nightmares
black notations of silent thoughts of music
muted ramblings of an obscure composer
puttering notes only he and i can hear
fragments of jazz rhythms
broken crazed despised

did you know Ingmar Bergman was terrified of death
but as he grew older, as he approached that dreadful moment,
he was no longer afraid

did you know life is forever
when death comes
there will be no life to feel

i was lost when i was your age
you will help me find myself
at your age
with this poem

Dear Sir

Dear Sir,
do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?
yes the one with the violin
holes in her jeans
she doesn’t know she doesn’t need you
just knows she wants
maybe the warmth of that moving wormlike fetus stirring growing within her
maybe the hotness of those orgasmic waves coming and going and coming within her
maybe that wet loneliness of wanting you and wanting you when you aren’t even gone
she sees only you
but do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?
yes the one selling matches
begging at the train station
she needs to find herself
not end up being
maybe just one your many conquests, that pretty thing to have at your side
maybe that soul-mate you’re keeping while you’re feeling too guilty to dump her
maybe that convenience for cooking, counseling, coming that you don’t even need
she will die for you
but do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?
yes that search for love
of that woman for that man
it never ends, repeating
again and again
maybe that blood trickling painless between our thighs on the abortion table
maybe that joy of a bouquet you bring smelling of grease from the construction site
maybe that other woman you hide like a fetish priest wishing my daughter’s death
she isn’t afraid
but do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?

SuperMom: A Poem for All Working Women With Children

Poetry by Yuri Kageyama.

SuperMom is the Mother in “The Terminator,” fearless, sinewy, a mother like no other.
SuperMom risks her life to save her child.
SuperMom risks her life to save the world.
SuperMom _ the mother of all mothers.
SuperMom, Mother, Mama, Okaasan!
SuperMom is never found in kitchens barefoot and wears boots to march to work.
SuperMom doesn’t make obento.
SuperMom shops at Ichi-Maru-Kyu.
SuperMom _ the mother of invention.
SuperMom, Mother, Mama, Okaasan!
SuperMom doesn’t gossip with other moms but makes her own money, pays tuition and buys you sneakers.
SuperMom doesn’t aspire to be on the cover of Nikkei Woman.
SuperMom just minds her keep.
SuperMom _ a motherfucking worker.
SuperMom, Mother, Mama, Okaasan!
SuperMom endures, her womb red and heavy and big and open, wrenching out babies and seaweed and stench.
SuperMom spurts out curdled milk like a fountain in the desert.
SuperMom is the origin of origins.
SuperMom _ the bottom of the sea.
SuperMom, Mother, Mama, Okaasan!
SuperMom teaches the primordial instinct of nurturing the species, the legacy of creation, the courage of the Artist.
SuperMom shows by example.
SuperMom leaves the message that nothing counts except Who You Are.
SuperMom _ the bottom of the earth.
SuperMom, Mother, Mama, Okaasan!

Fashion and oppression

Love for clothes, jewelery, makeup is generally relegated to the female sex in most societies.
Girls, not boys, love dolls, dress up and play house.
Men usually belittle shopping, vanity, fashion.
It is a common definition by society that such pursuits are deemed frivolous and motivated by women’s need to appeal to men.
And so having women obsess with dresses, hairdos and other self-adornment is to see women exactly where society wants to put them.
That’s why girls do cute things.
Makeup isn’t war face-paint.
A fashion plate isn’t a plate of armor.
Sex appeal isn’t territoriality.
The quest for beauty has turned into commercialized consumer marketing to push products for profit.
And the victims are women, who have been taught by their upbringing to seek the material goods that make them attractive/desirable/acceptable, the right dress, the right makeup, the right shoes.
When did the love for pretty things become so twisted?
Fashion should be a form of wearable art, fabric sculpted into a message, a way of self-expression.
Why do we need to feel that we cannot be free unless we wear no makeup and walk around in power suits and view fashion as a man would?

Cinderella Syndrome

Women are often afraid of their own success and want to undermine their own potential (“enryo”).
In a society that has linked success with masculinity, women subconsciously feel they may be punished for their success.
They feel success somehow makes them unlikable, less than complete, so it’s better to stay dark and hidden in the cinders.
Perhaps men will say this is self-imposed.
Perhaps today working women of color no longer feel they have to be 10 times, 100 times, better than the white male, and “go for broke” like the Japanese-American 442 of World War II, to get a chance at being seen as an equal.
I want to think my work and my example will help contribute in some way to leaving my work place, industry and even the world a better place for women of color, and to make it easier for women, especially women of color, to achieve the opportunities and success that we deserve.